Bowling Green (5-5) at South Florida (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 21, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: USF Sun Dome (9,662) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: BGSU 4-2, USF 5-2. Away Record: BGSU 0-1, USF 1-1. Neutral Record: BGSU 1-2, USF 0-0. Conference Record: BGSU 0-0, USF 0-0. Series Record: South Florida leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Bowling Green Falcons begin a four-game road trip with a visit to the USF Sun Dome to face the South Florida Bulls in a non-conference tilt.
Bowling Green is coming off an 11-point loss to Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday that dropped its record back to .500 at 5-5. Louis Orr's Falcons have gained steam since their 1-3 start and they had won four of five games before falling to the Spartans. Bowling Green has eclipsed the 70-point mark just once in regulation this season and averages 61.3 ppg. It is strong defensively as its opponents have managed only 60.7 ppg with 14.2 turnovers per contest.
Stan Heath's Bulls re-entered action after finals week with a 72-54 rout of Youngstown State that improved their record to 6-3. South Florida closed out November with three consecutive victories over Bradley, Stetson, and Georgia before it came up short in a road game against the nationally ranked Cowboys at Oklahoma State. Just like the team from a season ago that went to the NCAA Tournament, this year's Bulls are one of the toughest on the defensive end of the floor in the nation with an allowed average of just 58.4 points per game on 38.2 percent field goal shooting. They are scoring 65 ppg, which is almost six more points than last season.
This will be just the second encounter between these schools on the hardwood. South Florida won the first meeting that took place on the second day of 1978.
Although the Falcons lost 64-53 to Michigan State their last time out, they stayed close and did not trail by double digits until the final minutes of the contest. Bowling Green did a good job of taking care of the ball and dealt out 14 assists to 10 turnovers, but its 5-of-19 clip from beyond the arc led to an overall 32.8 percent mark from the field. The Spartans hit 48.1 percent of their shots from the floor to pull away. Sophomore forward Chauncey Orr led the Falcons with 16 points with makes on 6-of-7 field goal tries and 5-6 senior point guard Jordon Crawford contributed 10 points and seven assists. The floor general is pacing the team with 15.7 points and 3.9 assists per game. A'uston Calhoun, who is a close second on the team's scoring leaderboard with 15.4 ppg, was held to nine points by MSU. Calhoun is also the team's top rebounder with 6.8 per outing.
USF showed its ability to stifle an opponent last time out by holding Youngstown State to 32.8 percent shooting from the field, while allowing the Penguins to attempt just eight foul shots. The Bulls converted 44.1 percent of their field goal attempts and held a 45-35 advantage in the rebounding battle to coast to the decision. Victor Rudd produced a monster double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds, while fellow forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick netted 11 points. Sophomore point guard Anthony Collins added 14 points and seven assists. The Bulls are very deep as a handful of their players are capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night. Fitzpatrick (12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Collins (10.3 ppg, 7.8 apg) both own double-digit scoring averages. Jawanza Poland (9.8 ppg) and Rudd (9.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg) are close as well.
Both of these teams are stingy on the defensive end. Although Bowling Green showed it is capable of an upset by hanging around with Michigan State in its most recent action, the Bulls are going to be very difficult for anyone to knock off at home this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Florida 68, Bowling Green 56
12/21 10:32:37 ET